Faecal Occult Blood

What is faecal occult blood?

Both colorectal cancers and polyps bleed, but in such small amounts that you can’t see any blood. Blood in the stool that you can’t detect with your naked eye is called faecal occult blood (FOB).

How do I test for faecal occult blood?

There are tests we can do to detect tiny amounts of invisible blood in stool. These help us detect things like polyps and colorectal cancer well before you have any symptoms. Testing done to look for problems in people without symptoms is called screening.

The most widely used screening method for colorectal cancer is the faecal occult blood test (FOBT).

The Australian Government currently offers free FOBT kits to people turning 50, 55, 60, 65, 70 and 74. To be eligible for a free test, you need to have a Medicare card or a Veteran Affairs card.

It’s very easy to use a FOBT kit. You simply collect a small stool sample from the toilet and pop it into the container provided.

If your screening test is positive, you may need to have further tests to see if you have colorectal cancer. These are called diagnostic tests.